A Brief History of the ILJMuseum
The Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum (ILJM) opened its doors to the public in 1994. The ILJM is the only museum for jewelry in Greece. It strives to act as an international center for the continuation of the ancient handcraft art of goldsmithery while promoting research and manufacturing of the applied and the decorative arts.
A veritable gem of a Museum, housed in a renovated period building of the 1930’s, it is set on the south side of the Acropolis. A must-see destination: visitors are introduced to the contemporary wonders of the successful Greek businessman and artist Ilias Lalaounis, the founder of the museum. The permanent collections explore modern creations inspired by the history of ancient Greek art from Prehistory to Byzantium, 15 different cultures, modern technology, and nature; the artifacts illustrate the immense potential synergy between ancient goldsmithery and international contemporary jewelry design, in the creation of a potent cultural product.
Today the ILJMuseum has a broad agenda focused on the cultural and sociological impact of jewelry on younger generations. The visitor’s experience; the stories and making of the permanent collections; a variety of cultural programs for children and adults; specially designed guided tours; programs for disabled and activities for underprivileged youth are an inextricable part of the ILJMuseum’s agenda. Most valued are the changing temporary exhibitions with decorative arts and jewelry from world history of art. ILJMuseum and private collections, artists’ works become a motive to unite common interest to enhance the cultural identity of contemporary Greece. Through this house of worship, where Ilias Lalaounis endowed his legacy for future generations, the ILJMuseum strives to follow his example, recapture his spirit and continue to generate a positive revolution of values.
During your time in the ILJMuseum, please look for our newly established workshops!
Artists’ Metalsmithing Studio/ ZEM
The Artists’ Studio ZEM is the first interactive metalsmithing workshop built within a European Museum. ΖEM, is refurbished to replace the model hands-on prototype jewelry museum workshop that was set up when the museum first opened, to honor the space that housed the original Ilias Lalaounis’ jewelry workshops from the early 60’s until 1992.
ZEM focuses on promoting contemporary studio jewelry through the live work of young artists working in public. Traditional ancient and modern metalsmithing techniques are revealed to promote both traditional and modern forms of jewelry. Through a regular museum visit, spectators may watch the demonstration of multiple techniques, the conservation of jewelry in an inspirational environment motivated by this new jewelers’ hub. Individuals and groups with specialized interests may experience hands – on tutorials and exchange knowledge with the artist in residence.
Artists’ Traditional Crafts Studio/ ZEDET
The Artists’ Traditional Crafts Studio advances artistic productivity and enhances the educational role of the ZEM metalsmithing workshop (in the Museum’s ground level) to promote the use of non-precious materials, traditional crafts and new forms for contemporary studio jewelry.
ZEDET respects the space that hosted the first Ilias Lalaounis workshops for fine jewelry and challenges artists in a process that will enable them to flourish within the international artistic community moving away from Greece’s traditional use of metalsmithing.
Artists experiment with textiles, ceramics and wood; master the use of leather, enamel, clay, recycled materials, and plastics, responding at the same time to current social issues manifested in contemporary cultures. The marriage of traditional and modern techniques, tools, and materials envelop new inspiration for the promotion of new contemporary design by the Greek and international artistic communities.